Introduction

Hello everyone. I’m Peter, and welcome to my new blog, entitled ‘400 Metres To Go’. Here I will detail my experiences as I train up to become a long distance runner.

The name of the blog is derived from the phrase that I find commentators often seem to mention as runners approach the last lap or stretch in the race. I originally wanted to call this ‘Living the Legacy’, from the much-talked about legacy that the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games aims to achieve. The organisers say they want to ‘inspire a generation’. I’m aware this is a movement aimed more at younger people and in the case of the latter, at getting people to treat disabled people not based on what they can’t do, but what they can do. I’m 28, so I’m not exactly a spring chicken, but I feel totally inspired by the Games myself to get up and start putting myself to the test.

There is another aspect to that word ‘legacy’. And that involves my mother, who passed away a couple of months ago. She had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) – aka motor neurone disease, a debilitating genetic disorder that affects the nervous system. She always lived life to the full, and life is something I want to get more out of. We took over £400 for the MND Association at my mum’s funeral, and as a family we have searched for ways to continue to raise money. I’m not bad at drumming, but to organise a gig is something I know nothing amount, and to get bands to play, people to turn up, etc. is not my game. Taking up running seemed the most obvious, and indeed only option.

In high school I took part in various athletic disciplines – 100m, 400m, 800m, high jump – but middle distance running was where I felt comfortable at the time, and in my final sports day at high school I ran both the 1500m (drafted in last minute as my mate bust his hip prior to the race), and my chosen event, the 800m. I finished fifth in both out of eight. The latter was a lesson in how not to run a race. I burned my pace at the beginning, building a considerable lead which was eaten away during the second lap. I didn’t do much running after that, as my interests turned away from sport and more into music, chiefly rocking out to and indeed playing heavy metal music.

Although I’ve followed athletics on and off over the years, only recent events have motivated me to get back into running, and that owed to both wanting to do my mum proud and, unsurprisingly, some of the athletes who competed at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. But undeniably, the performances of Mo Farah, David Rudisha, the Brownlee brothers, David Weir, Michael McKillop and Galen Rupp among others were the inspiration I needed to get off my backside, stop solely being interested in music and gaming, live a better lifestyle, and ultimately, raise a ton of money for charity in my mum’s honour.

I’ll detail my training as I build from a couch-slouching parent of twins into a full fledged long distance runner, from distances covered, places travelled, and even what gets me pumped for action. I’ll occasionally give my opinion into certain athletic events, though this won’t be too often, I’m still a relative novice in terms of my expertise when it comes to the sport. Deep down, the core focus will be the changes I make in order to become a more positive role model for my children.

The long term aim within my first year is to make next year’s Great North Run. My grandfather was from Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and my mum identified heavily with the area in recent years. My grandfather died before I was born and I’ve never been to Newcastle yet, despite going up that way to Middlesbrough and Redcar recently. While tackling other races along the way, I specifically want to compete at the Great North Run, for charity. That’s the big one. That’s the one I want. But of course, it will go beyond that.

I’m going to enjoy chronicling my progress and I hope you join me on the journey too. If just a fraction of what I aim to raise can help smash MND, then its going to be worth every meter, every mile.

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